With five projects in the queue for repair and the development of a new help desk coding program underway, information technology students at Fox Valley Technical College are finding lots to do in their new home away from home.
Inside the newly-expanded student Help Desk at FVTC is where many IT students hang out to work on projects for other learners who might not otherwise be able to afford repairs related to hardware, computer viruses and more.
“I can’t get enough of this place,” said Erik Moline, a graduate of FVTC’s Computer Support Specialist program. “While pursuing my bachelor’s degree online in information and communication technologies, I help other IT students run the new Help Desk at the Tech. We work as a team to do hands-on repairs for students across the college.”
Moline, 22, added that the Help Desk provides added space to house more equipment and serves as a real-time skill-building lab.
“In our new setting we can provide better customer service and collaborate more efficiently for the end user,” said the Oshkosh native. The Help Desk is just one of several remodeled lab spaces that make up FVTC’s IT Center.
Located in the northwest section of FVTC’s main Appleton campus building, the $1.3 million renovation also consists of two pod-designed classrooms with wall-to-wall IDEA paint, large multi-media screens and conjoined desktops for face-to-face interaction, in addition to an expanded networking lab and data center, flexible learning lecture rooms, a computer support classroom furnished with tear-down computers, and both faculty- and student-maker labs with 3-D printing capabilities for designing and building projects.
The renovations align with growing demands for IT professionals throughout the region. Per month, there is an average of 30 full-time job postings for IT workers in northeast Wisconsin, according the college’s most recent graduate employment report.
Doug Waterman, dean of FVTC’s IT programs, affirms the robust outlook for individuals entering this career.
“Every business, large and small, needs IT expertise at multiple levels. Our new IT space provides the latest technologies and resources to give graduates the needed skills to make a positive impact in the workplace and the community.”
Waupaca native Forrest Peters earned a new career before finishing his IT studies at FVTC. The 50-year-old has traveled throughout North America repairing and servicing injection valves in the manufacturing industry and most recently spent two decades as a welder. Peters attests to how rewarding it can be to make a career change to something completely different.
“I love taking things apart and putting them back together,” said Peters. “Fox Valley Tech gave me the tools to successfully start a new career at this stage in my life. I’ll be graduating in May but was hired already by the city of Waupaca as an internet technician.”
A number of international students studying IT at FVTC are getting involved in the center. Daniel da Silva Farias, from Brazil, is leading a project to make a coding program unique to FVTC. This project’s goal is to customize a student help desk intake process concerning work orders and how they’re tracked until completion.
da Silva Farias said the new system will improve customer service and the documentation of work.
“The old system used to be done on paper,” he adds. “Now it will be completely online. The skills I’m learning through this project will prepare me for a career working with computers and developing software.”
FVTC’s IT Center brings industry disciplines together in one central hub so students can more easily learn from others’ fields, including networking, support, help desk, software development and web development and design.
The existing space in which the IT center now resides was formerly part of the college’s Criminal Justice, Forensic Science and Emergency Medical Services programs. Those offerings were relocated to FVTC’s 80-acre Public Safety Training Center on County Road BB adjacent to the Appleton International Airport.